Good old Bobby Mugabe is back to his old loveable ways. Having freed himself from partnership with MDC, he can now get back full-time to the important business of running his country into the ground.
It’s looking like he’ll have to do it without the help of China. Mugabe had been touting $30 billion in Chinese aid/investment, but the actual number might turn out to be $0.00.
I don’t see how Mugabe’s plan didn’t work. After all, he went and found a Zimbabwean named Patrick Chinamasa, appointed him finance minister, and sent him to Bejing to pass the hat.
What could possibly have gone wrong?
Dolia Estevez in Forbes Magazine has a good piece on the Mexican government’s legal attack on monopolies, specifically Telmex, Telcel, and Televisa. Mexico’s Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) ruled that all three were ““preponderant economic agents”, and forces the companies to “share their infrastructure, increase competition, lower prices and expand access to services such as broadband and pay television to decrease their power.”
Reasonable people may debate what constitutes a “preponderant economic agent” (or indeed what it even means), but the numbers in these cases are pretty clear cut. Telmex, for instance, controls 80% of the landlines in Mexico, Televisa has 70% of the broadcast TV market and 56% of the cable and satellite TV.
As always in Latin America, de jure isn’t always (or usually) the same as de facto. These companies have an enormous amount of political clout and they have been highly intertwined with PRI fortunes for decades. I’m curious about how much this new ruling will be enforced. Perhaps I lived in Mexico too long and am reading too much into the following statement, but I found it very interesting how Televisa execs said they would review the ruling to decide their next move, “legal, business, or otherwise.” I wonder what the “otherwise” means…
OK, technically it’s FDI but still……
Here’s a great photo essay on a Chinese built ghost town in Angola.
People do you think a cock-up like this has anything to do with the language of business there being Portuguese? Or with Chinese FDI aimed at enabling the election pledges of local leaders? At least the Chinese are keeping up the old colonial tradition of resource extraction: the construction costs are being paid by Angola with oil!
Has China run out of places to built ghost towns domestically and thus must resort to foisting them on developing countries?
The essay claims that there is an operating school in the ghost town, but all the students are bussed in because no children actually live in the ghost town. Why would they? Ghost towns are scary.
I came across an article this morning called “Mexico City “Eco-Bici” Inspires Alternate Transportation.” Following the example of NYC, Mexico City has started a bike rental program, where people can rent bicycles via a mobile app for 400 pesos a year. There are obvious benefits of such a program (less pollution, more options for transportation, etc) and Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, is traveling to MC to learn more and consider implementation of something similar in LA.
I would be terrified of biking in the traffic in NYC, but I would be even more terrified of doing so in MC. The article doesn’t mention the downsides of such a program, but having lived and driven in the city for a couple of years, I fear for the lives of those brave cyclists. Between the pollution, the lack of respect for traffic laws, and the homicidal pesero drivers (as well as regular drivers too), Dios mio!
Robin just posted an interesting map of who trades with who, showing that China was the #1 trade partner of a number of African countries. Now here’s me posting a map of “the language of business” across African countries.
You can clearly see the colonial legacies, but what’s interesting to me is imagining how business must be conducted in those nations.
For example, in Angola, the language of business is Portuguese, but the #1 trade partner is China. How does that work exactly? Interpreters? Portuguese fluent Chinese traders? Chinese fluent Angolan importers?
My best guesses are (A) No Angolan participation in the “trade” it’s Chinese firms all the way down, or (B) the language map is kind of BS and everyone speaks English when doing international trade.
Perhaps someone with actual knowledge of the Angolan import market could weigh in?
I just came across a new paper in the JDE by Nicolai Kaarsen “Cross-country differences in the quality of schooling.” It is moving to the top of the ever-expanding pile. Here’s the abstract:
This paper constructs a cross-country measure of the quality of education using a novel approach based on international test scores data. The first main finding is that there are large differences in education quality – one year of schooling in the U.S. is equivalent to three or more years of schooling in a number of low-income countries. I incorporate the estimated series for schooling quality in an accounting framework calibrated using evidence on Mincerian returns. This leads to the second important finding, which is that the fraction of income differences explained by the model rises substantially when one includes education quality; the increase is around 22 percentage points.